The Relationship Between Tobacco Advertisements and Smoking Status of Youth in India


Objective: To examine the relationship between tobacco advertisements, counter-advertisements, and smokingstatus among Indian youth. Materials and
Methods: Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) data was used; thedata encompassed a representative two-stage probability sample of 60,001 students aged 13–15 years in 24states in India. These students were interviewed with an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire. Binarylogistic regression analyses were performed with smoking status as the dependent variable, and exposure tocigarette advertisements or counter-advertisements as independent variables.
Results: Students watching antismokingmedia messages were less likely to be current smokers, which was true for both boys [OR = 0.89, 95%CI (0.81–0.98)] and girls [OR = 0.79, 95% CI (0.69–0.90)]. This relationship was stronger among past smokersfor boys [OR = 0.56, 95%CI (0.52–0.60)] and girls [OR = 0.49, 95% CI (0.45–0.53)]. On the other hand, studentswho were exposed to cigarette brand names during sports events and other televised programs, newspapers ormagazines, and being offered free cigarette or cigarette-branded merchandise promotions were significantlymore likely to be smokers, with effects ranging from moderate (OR=1.19) to very strong (OR=3.83).
Conclusions:This is the first attempt from India to investigate the relationship between smoking and advertising. When thedata were collected, cigarette advertising was legal and highly correlated with smoking behavior. Today, indirectsurrogate advertising still exists; future research should examine its effect, as it is likely to have the same impactas direct advertising on smoking behavior. Finally, counter-advertising has a protective effect on youth and mayfunction as a cessation aid.